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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Kybernetes, Volume 43, Issue 3/4
Tourism is a complex global and local, social and economic, phenomenon, requiring systemic, i.e. requisitely holistic, consideration to flourish and bring benefits to both hosts and guests. This special issue of Kybernetes is the first one ever entirely dedicated to tourism, and was conceived in December 2012 on the occasion of the World Tourism Organizations symbolic proclamation of the one billionth international tourist (UNWTO, 2012). The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of “responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism (UNWTO, 2014), and UNWTO (2013b) data demonstrate what tourism currently means in terms of the global economy: it stands for 9 per cent of the global GDP; it provides one in every 11 jobs (even in the poorest countries, and thus contributes to poverty alleviation); it is associated with 1.3 trillion US$ in exports; it has a 6 per cent share in the worlds exports and a 30 per cent share in global export of services.
Figure 1 shows the rapid global growth of both tourism arrivals (in million) and tourism expenditure (in billion US$) for the period of the last six decades, with an extrapolation for the decades 2020 and 2030 (Lebe and Vrečko, 2014). From both exponential curves, it can be seen that the intensity of tourism has increased in parallel with the augmenting of the quality of life: it is not surprising that tens of millions of new international tourists annually joining the existing ones predominately live in emerging economies.
Figure 1 Tourisms growth in decades: 1950-2020
The figure shows tourisms success story: its route from the marginal 25 million individuals in 1950 up to the top industry, moving more than one billion people beyond the frontiers of their countries in search for new experiences in culture, leisure, health, adventure, etc. and contributing to the global GPD more than the pharmaceutical, the automobile or the petrol industries do. Yet the figure shows international arrivals only. UNWTO (2013a) argues that we have to add the domestic tourism share as well, which is (estimated) five to six fold the amount of the international arrivals. A quick comparison: the world population totalled 2.5 billion in 1950, and has tripled since then to reach 7.2 billion in 2013 (increase of almost 300 per cent). In this same period international tourism arrivals have augmented from 25 million to 1.087 billion in 013 (UNWTO 2013a), which outperforms the initial number by more than 4,300 per cent.
Tourism has long ago become an indispensable part of lifestyle in wealthy societies. As the emerging economies are quickly following this living pattern, we can expect its further rapid growth. Although being economically so successful, tourism has to be considered much more broadly: as a gigantesque and extremely complex system with huge impacts (positive and negative ones) on its environment. Tourism experts are aware of this: for over two decades, intensive research on its impacts on the economy, ecology and society has become known as the “triple bottom line issue (also known as the three Ps: people, planet and profit). Yet several topics remain insufficiently addressed, e.g. the huge gap between those who can act as (international) tourists because of their living in abundance (which can often even be caricatured as “shortage of shortages), and those who cannot, not even have enough to eat […]. The editors thus decided to make the complexity, and the need for systems approach to tourism, as well as its sustainable and socially responsible development the main topic of this special issue of Kybernetes.
In official international documents, social responsibility is defined as everyones responsibility. The seven topics in the ISO 26000 international advisory standard about social responsibility include everything crucial in humankinds life. The topics are linked with two crucial concepts of systems theory:
1. interdependence; and
Solutions come from implementation of its seven principles:
3. ethical behaviour (meaning honesty, etc.);
4. respect for stakeholders (not shareholders only);
5. the rule of (ethical rather than one-sided) law;
6. international norms; and
7. human rights (ISO, 2010).
The European Union (2011) sees in social responsibility the way out from the current crises. Hence it invites its member states as well as enterprises to become role models for social responsibility by applying the ISO 26000 principles.
How actively is social responsibility practiced in tourism and what can be done or suggested to promote more of it? This is the question addressed here in 19 articles, written by 38 authors who live in ten countries. They are addressing some of the major topics that tourism already has, and increasingly will have to face: problems of human resources in tourism/hospitality (Rok and Mulej), sustainable and responsible marketing (Mazurek, Pejić-Bach et al., Batat and Prentović, Perić and Đurkin, and Zupan and Milfelner), travelling of disabled persons (Ženko and Šardi), learning foreign languages at childrens age (Brumen et al.), and entrepreneurship and management (Crnogaj et al., Štrukelj and Šuligoj, Lebe and Vrečko, and Nicolau et al.). Several articles demonstrate that various types of systems theories can be applied in tourism research (Ropret et al., Mi et al., Jia et al., Sanchez-Fernandez et al., Wang and Pei, Baggio, and Wiltshier and Edwards).
All of them together generate a new literature opus with many different and mutually complementary crucial aspects that have scarcely been addressed in the past (systems thinking paired with social responsibility) – hence we could call this group of contributions a dialectical system of interdependent contributions aimed at achieving the requisite holism. We hope this special issue will stimulate further contributions to follow, adding to the holism/wholeness literature for the tourism sector.
Last but by far not the least: we would like to express our sincere gratitude and send out a huge “Thank you! to all the reviewers who have – partly for the first time for Kybernetes – done a great job. Towards the end of the arduous process, the reviewers were still so cooperative as to return the reviewed papers within less than one week – a really excellent support that we are deeply thankful for.
There remains not much else for us at the end of our editorial work but to say: enjoy the reading, it is worth every minute of your time!
On the one hand it brings huge benefits to the regions/destinations where it is developed (job generation, income, infrastructure), yet on the other hand it destroys the authenticity of places, devastates natural environments and “imports problems known in “global, big cities (crime, prostitution, diseases, etc.) to remote regions and small places/countries where such problems have not existed before opening the doors to tourism.
EU (2011), Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: A Renewed EU Strategy 2011-14 for Corporate Social Responsibility, Com(2011) 681 Final 25. October 2011, European Commission, Brussels
ISO (2010), ISO 26000 – Guidance on Social Responsibility, International Organization for Standardization, Geneva
Lebe, S.S. and Vrečko, I. (2014), “Eco-labels and schemes: a requisitely holistic proof of tourisms social responsibility?, Systems Research and Behavioral Science, February
UNWTO (2012), International Tourism Hits One Billion, PR12076, UNWTO, Madrid, 12 December
UNWTO (2013a), Tourism Barometer, Vol. 11, UNWTO, Madrid, December
UNWTO (2013b), Tourism Highlights 2013, UNWTO, Madrid
UNWTO (2014), Available at: http://www2.unwto.org/content/who-we-are-0/ (accessed 19 February 2014)
Sonja Sibila Lebe, Matjaž Mulej